Nike vs Adidas: The brand battle of the 2018 World Cup

The world’s biggest soccer event provides the ultimate platform for brands to compete for the attention of the sport’s 4 billion fans. Sportswear rivals Adidas and Nike, which both boast ties to the World Cup that stretch back decades, will be neck and neck as they compete to engage consumers over the next month. SportsPro compares each brand’s investments and marketing tactics to predict which will come out on top.

Nike vs Adidas: The brand battle of the 2018 World Cup

The 2018 Fifa World Cup, featuring the top 32 national teams on the planet and thrashed over 64 matches in 12 venues, across 11 different Russian cities, represents the biggest, most prestigious sporting event on the planet when it kicks off on 14th June.

Centre-stage amidst the brand battle for dominance to gain cut-through and return-on-investment (ROI), are sportswear manufacturing rivals Adidas and Nike, who have gone head-to-head for years in a bid to become the world’s top soccer apparel brand.

Both companies have made the biggest investments in soccer and boast some of the best marketers and the biggest budgets in the game. Adidas, which has supplied the World Cup match ball since 1970, has a deal to serve as the official sponsor of the tournament until 2030. The German brand, however, has said it expects only a limited financial impact from this summer, citing the “lower financial opportunities” in Russia compared to those of other World Cups.

Nike, which has invested heavily in soccer since the World Cup was played in the US in 1994, is supplying shirts for ten countries, while Adidas will take 12 of the 32 nations, but claims that 60 per cent of players will be wearing its boots.

In order to determine which of the two brands will ‘win’ the World Cup, SportsPro looked at data compiled by Venngage, which considered trends and marketing tactics from both companies, to decide which will dominate this year. Venngage's original data can be found here.

Defining the ‘win’

A major part of both Adidas and Nike’s brand strategy focuses on sponsoring the teams and players that could emerge as winners of the tournament in order to associate their name with success, gain maximum exposure, and further growth.

However, to really ‘win’ the World Cup as a brand, the company needs to generate the most soccer-related revenue, create the most marketing ‘buzz’ and grow a larger, more engaged following— on top of winning the event in sporting terms. Venngage breaks the ‘win’ into five measures.

Round One: Marketing effectiveness

Comparing the brands’ marketing spend versus the returns they are likely to see, and using data from the 2014 World Cup, as well as the values of national kit deals, the better marketing strategy is relatively simple to identify.

Round Two: Teams sponsored

Since the best teams last longer in the tournament, the brand gains more exposure, generating bigger revenues through greater visibility.

Round Three: Underdog teams sponsored

Association with underdog teams, according to Venngage, generates marketable “thrill and excitement” and encourage spending in unexpected places, something that has been proven to be lucrative for some major brands.

Round Four: Number of star players

Association with star players drives revenue for brands. Consequently, the teams progressing the furthest during the World Cup also determines which players will be visible for most of the tournament. Venngage looked at which brand has the most marketable players who could make the finals.

Round Five: Media following

Social media following indicates “the general public view” of the brands. A winning brand strategy will result in a higher online following, and a more engaged audience.

The Analysis